Philippines' bank to watch 2023: Country Builders Bank
Country Builders Bank
All banks in the Philippines devote attention and resources to increasing financial inclusion. But Country Builders Bank stands out for its work in spreading the benefits of rapid economic growth.
The bank was launched in 2017, but its microfinance roots date back to 2001. That is when First Macro Bank, with nine branches, became one of the nation’s first rural banks focus on financing to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Starting in the Rizal area east of Manila, First Macro pioneered the introduction of financial products for microentrepreneurs.
The bank began small, offering loans for amounts starting at P3,000 ($54) and going up to P25,000. These short-term, non-collateral loans with fixed weekly payment schedules were an important innovation: rural business owners gained entry to the conventional banking system for the first time and received mandatory training sessions on financial management and responsibility.
In 2017, when Country Builders Bank decided to focus on microfinance, it merged with First Macro. That was five years after Country Builders Bank and Country Rural Bank of Taguig merged into one institution. The 2017 tie up made Country Builders Bank the largest rural bank in terms of branches, and one of the nation’s largest overall.